With the New York Rangers now having only one restricted free agent left to sign this offseason, that being center Derek Stepan, will GM Glen Sather offer him a bridge deal instead of a long term contract?
I believe this will be the case, not because Stepan doesn’t deserve a long term deal, but because the Rangers are right up against the salary cap with only a little over $2 million left to spend. Since Sather is smarter than GMs Ray Shero of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Paul Holmgren of the Philadelphia Flyers, Stepan will have to wait a little longer for a big pay day.
Now this is nothing against Stepan, but Sather has to focus more on giving goaltender Henrik Lundqvist a long term contract rather than Stepan. Lundqvist is the best player on the Rangers and is the heart and soul of the team not named Ryan Callahan.
However, if the Rangers decided to buyout center Brad Richards this offseason, like everyone expected Sather would do, maybe Stepan would get a long term contract this summer. But since we can’t rewrite history, this is now a non-factor in all of this.
Even if Stepan does receive a bridge deal, like defenseman P.K. Subban of the Montreal Canadiens did earlier this year for two years worth $5.75 million total, the Rangers would still have to make a trade to get under the salary cap and give them some wiggle room for the 2013-14 season. Look for either forward Brian Boyle or Taylor Pyatt to be on the move soon.